Rescuers in India tunnel collapse change approach as frantic efforts pass one-week mark
Rescuers in India have changed their approach in the ongoing effort to free victims from the rubble of a collapsed access tunnel at an under-construction hydropower project in the country’s central region. The effort to free victims of last week’s tunnel collapse in the state of Madhya Pradesh has entered its second week, with rescuers sharpening focus on digging out survivors rather than recovering bodies. For the past week, teams of rescuers have been using manual tools, as well as heavy machinery, to excavate the mounds of debris in the heavily forested site near the town of Kheri. The rescue workers have drilled several vertical and horizontal tunnels, allowing them to access previously unaccessible areas of the tunnel. The teams also deployed a high-tech camera to look for survivors in tight crevices and hard-to-reach spaces. Meanwhile, the families of the victims have set up a makeshift camp next to the site as they desperately wait for news of their loved ones. Rescue workers said the night-time operation was proving particularly difficult, as the rescue workers had to work under torchlight and use manual tools, such as shovels and pickaxes. Rescue efforts have so far recovered 22 bodies from the tunnel, and optimism has been rising with the announcement that 56 survivors had been pulled out of the debris in recent days. The cause of the collapse is yet to be ascertained, with officials saying that a probe is underway. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the incident as “a tragedy” and said the government would do everything it could to provide assistance to the victims.